May 20, 2018

A renewed debate about school design to stop shootings

Santa Fe High School parking lot.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Second Amendment activists and some security experts are calling for safer school designs, while some gun-control advocates say it's a distracting issue that avoids more meaningful action, AP's Lisa Marie Pane reports.

What kicked things off: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said after Friday's shooting: "There are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas."

The case for "hardening" schools:

  • "After the 9/11 terror attacks, the United States took steps to secure government and public buildings — from airports to concert halls."
  • "According to a report last year in Education Week, a trade publication, the average age of an American school is 44 years with major renovations dating back more than a decade. Older buildings were designed without today's worries of active shooters and terrorism."
  • "They have lots of 'nooks and crannies,' isolated areas that are difficult to supervise, as well as old hardware on classroom doors and main offices that aren't located near the main entrance."
  • "Other problems include old public-address systems and no telephones in classrooms."

The case against:

  • "[E]ducational considerations create some natural tension with security needs. Studying in places with lots of light ... is thought to improve learning."
  • "Having metal detectors at the entrance creates long lines, which means schools have to start earlier and hire more staff to screen students."

P.S. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo makes an emotional gun-control push on Facebook (Houston is 36 miles from Santa Fe):

  • "I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue. Please do not post anything about guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do. My feelings won’t be hurt if you de-friend me and I hope yours won’t be if you decide to post about your views and I de-friend you."
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